OSMOZ magazine

Love and seduction, two sexy keys to perfumery

24 october 2013

In Ancient times, fragrance was essentially connected to spirituality, since its earliest use was in religious ceremonies, ranging from offerings to the gods to embalming the dead. Today, it is often seen as a “weapon of seduction.” Fragrance, like a love potion, has become the trail that attracts and dazzles, the mark that makes each of us, male or female, unforgettable in other people’s minds. Of course, being seductive and captivating isn’t the only reason to wear fragrance, since we also love to smell good for our own sakes, for instance. But fragrance’s ability to beguile and fascinate others as a path to love and happiness is nevertheless a key concept for fragrance brands.

Many houses draw directly upon the language of love to equip a new fragrance with a catchy, appealing name, like Amour by Kenzo, for example. It’s a skin scent that’s as addictively cocoon-like as falling in love. Inspired by Balinese temple offerings, it reproduces the sun-drenched scent of Bali’s emblematic frangipani blossom over an extremely gentle trail of woods, vanilla and almond.  Amor Amor by Cacharel also speaks of love with its fruity and slightly floral notes and very vanilla trail: a fresh, gourmand oriental that’s as mischievous as can be.

Parlez-moi d’Amour by John Galliano, Loverdose by Diesel and Love, Chloe are all fragrances where the idea of love is highlighted in the name. More recently, Lolita Lempicka went with that theme for her latest perfume launch. Elle l’Aime – a bit of word play that sounds like the beginning of L. Lempicka – is meant as an ode to happiness. The radiant glow of a woman in love is interpreted as an imaginary coconut blossom wrapped in a bouquet of white flowers. The exotic, sun-drenched scents of a tropical beach express this vision of love. In-the-know niche brands sometimes go for a romantic touch too. Like Annick Goutal’s Quel Amour, Grand Amour and Passion: three floral bouquets that express a timeless femininity.

Other times love can be less direct, slipping its waves of scent into our fragrances more subtly. At Guerlain, for example, the lushness of Chamade’sgreen, floral and vanilla notes evoke a heart pounding with love (the word chamade refers to a heart that is aflutter, or pounding wildly), while Idylle speaks to us of flirting, affection and burgeoning love over a delicately chypry-musky trail of rose. As Lancôme’s Attraction (no longer available) implies, love starts with the attraction two people feel for each other, before moving on to words and gestures that express it with elegance, like the spicy woody notes of Cartier’s Déclaration. Fragrance even borrow ideas for love stories from the authors of literary classics, like Musset and George Sand, and even  of comic books (which are often intended for grown-ups in Europe), like Hugo Pratt, as seen in the sensually balmy and powdery notes of Bijou Romantique by Etat Libre d’Orange.

 

Love isn’t always explicitly at the heart of a perfume’s concept – sometimes you have to read between the lines, as in those ads that sublimate their seductiveness. In the 1980s, a decade when perfume was powerful, like an echo to the jackets with padded shoulders and epaulettes that women were wearing, several houses portrayed their perfumes as potions for bewitching and beguiling, like a spell cast to snare a man in your nets. The emblematic, mythical perfume from that period is clearly Dior’s Poison. That incomparable scent is meant for a sultry and boldly arousing femme fatale. Flaunting a venomous substance for a name, Poison is like those diabolically magical potions that are used to attract and captivate, thanks to fruity (plum), floral (carnal tuberose), spicy and ambry waves of scent. A few years later, Hypnotic Poison, incarnated by Monica Belluci, would prove to be every bit as spellbinding, thanks to its intoxicatingly magnetic scent of white flowers, bitter almond and vanilla. It is now one of the best-selling perfumes on the market.

In the same mysterious vein as Poison, Magie Noire (Black Magic) by Lancôme made its mark in the 80s, with its powerful oriental notes.

As seductive as ever, love still seemed dangerous and transgressive in the mid-1990s.  In its apple-shaped bottleLolita Lempicka’s Premier Parfum was portrayed as an ode to original sin: giving in to this gourmand fragrance, with its notes of licorice and violet, means tasting the forbidden fruit, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Givenchy would also turn love into temptation. In the early 2000s, Liv Tyler, the face of their fragrance Very Irresistible, was literally irresistible. Lately, the idea of seductiveness has been cloaked in intensity for men, too, with a broodingly attractive Vincent Cassel fronting Yves Saint-Laurent’s La Nuit de l’Homme.

With lingerie brand Aubade (of the famous “lessons”) bringing out their first fragrance, it’s clear that perfume and love are being seen through the prism of seduction more than ever.

And finally, some perfume houses go back to their heritage to speak to us of love. Guerlain has revisited the origins of their most iconic perfume, Shalimar, inspired by Emperor Shah Jahan’s love for his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Crazy with grief, he had a magnificent tomb built to honor her memory by the cascades in the Gardens of Shalimar: the Taj Mahal. Because Shalimar is above all an ode to desire, bringing the romantic story that led to its creation to the big screen is yet another way to be inspired by love.

Sophie Normand

Sophie Normand

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Even though I’ve been fascinated by perfume since I was a teenager, I still studied first law and then journalism. I started writing professionally, and then about three years ago I thought of doing a blog about perfume. Alongside that, I share my passion for perfume through other media as...

  • 12 september 2014

    Las fragancias tienen que ver con la personalidad, el momento y la intención! La percepción fugaz de una fragancia nos hace evocar momentos, situaciones y personas. Nos despiertan, nos seducen, nos invitan! Hay una especie de lenguaje olfativo a través de esas notas que sin duda estimulan sensaciones, emociones, experiencias!

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  • 07 november 2013

    Es espectacular esta pagina porque me he informado muy bien acerca de las mejores marcas de perfumes del mundo, en realidad los frascos de los perfumes son muy innovadores, y cuentan con una publicidad excelente que inspira a sus lectores a querer comprar los perfumes. Excelente!!!

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  • 05 november 2013

    Je mélangerais plutôt le parfum et le désir que le parfum et l'amour. Ou alors, c'est lorsqu'on aime quelqu'un que son parfum nous fait de l'effet et provoque des sentiments. Le parfum peut soit attirer quelqu'un qui passe, soit servir de signature lorsqu'on est absent pour quelqu'un qui nous connait bien...

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  • 05 november 2013

    los perfumes cautivan desde su forma de presentación, es el primer llamado de atención que te hace querer probarlo y luego te termina cautivando su aroma hasta quedar completamente cautivado

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